Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Three weird things about me: #1

1. I was driving home from church one Sunday when I realized I was ravenous. Hours earlier I'd run out of the house 5 minutes late as usual, and only had time to gobble down a cup of homemade yogurt before I left. My stomach felt twisted into a lonely knot, a feeling it's not used to. Poor thing never misses a meal or a snack. (Please don't ask me how my fucking diet's going. Still 25 pounds to go.)

I realized the pantry was kind of bare at home. I hadn't shopped for groceries in 2 weeks. As I considered my options, I realized it would probably be eggs again, at least until I could get to Kroger and stock up.

As I sat at a stop light waiting to turn onto the interstate ramp toward home, I was struck by a sudden revelation:  I'd just passed at least half a dozen fast food restaurants, and not once did I consider stopping and getting something to eat. Dozens .... no, thousands of people would drive through or  pick up food at those places that Sunday. They would just stop wherever they were and eat when they were hungry. Yet I didn't even consider doing that. In fact, I didn't even see those places as food options.
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What the hell is wrong with me? I wondered. Why would I choose being hungry over stopping and seeing what they had to offer? Have I lost my instincts? Surely hunter/gatherers ate whatever they could find wherever they could find it, even if they had to eat bugs or dirty old roots. Fast food is our modern nuts and berries, isn't it? It's practically a paleo diet! Why didn't I just stop and get a delicious burger and fries like a normal person?"

Later that day two pieces of information crossed my Facebook newsfeed. The first one was this abstract of a study done of the ingredients in fast food burgers. Here's the relevant information. The researchers studied burgers from 8 different fast food restaurants, and discovered that "[f]ast food hamburgers are comprised of little meat (median, 12.1%). Approximately half of their weight is made up of water. Unexpected tissue types found in some hamburgers included bone, cartilage, and plant material; no brain tissue was present. Sarcocystis parasites were discovered in 2 hamburgers."

In other words, only about 12% of that fast food burger is burger. Half is water, but that leaves another 38% unaccounted for. It's that 38% that makes me suspicious.

And then my local newspaper posted a video of microscopic photos someone had taken of chicken mcnuggets.

Even though I find the video somewhat exploitative -- the music, the panning in on tiny unrecognizable spots, the repetitive shots -- what they're showing there doesn't look like food. Of course, neither does the pink goo in this video.

I can't put that shit in my mouth, and I've eaten a lot of weird foods, including everything from snails to turtles to testicles. I'm not easily grossed out, and I'm fine with eating all of the animal. Please do. But I also want to know what I'm eating; I want a choice about what I'm eating; and I want to know that what I'm eating is still food. That pink shit crosses the line.

I guess I'm just not that small-town Iowa girl who only got McDonald's in Des Moines at most once a year. Back then, a 25-cent cheeseburger, fries and an orange drink was such a delicious treat. It probably would still taste delicious, but I'm both jaded and sensitized to mystery meat, microscopic hairs and pink goo. It looks like stuff I'd expect to find in the Clone-a-Willy kit.

It's not that I only eat at home. I'm weird, but I'm not a freak. I eat out fairly regularly. When I do, I pay a little more for my food, but I eat where I know the food is real, and so are the people who own the restaurant. Sometimes I even know the owner. It's not as quick nor as easy as grabbing a burger and fries to eat on the road -- can't do that with a salad. I've tried. But I'd rather be hungry.

And given the number of burgers McDonald's alone has served, I think that makes me a weirdo.

If you were going to list the things that make you weird, what would be one of them?

Disclaimer: I don't give a shit if you eat McDonald's burgers and nuggets every day. It's really not my business. This is all about me. I will admit just writing this is making me crave a Wendy's single ... hard. If someone walked into my house with one, I'd insist on at least one bite. So if you do eat that shit, I'm not hatin'.


  1. I am SO glad that I am vegetarian. I can't bring myself to watch the videos.

    Sometimes, when I think about how weird I am, and the many many ways in which I am weird, the Avril Lavigne song gets stuck in my head and stays there for days. Then I walk around singing "Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out..."

    1. It's hard to eat fast food when you're a vegetarian. For the 10 years I was, I carried a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with me at all times. My family mocked me for that until we got stuck at an airport somewhere between here and southern Texas for a long time and couldn't get anything to eat because we were traveling between terminals on buses. Then they were glad for a quarter of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.